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'The Magus': A Thrilling, Chilling Guilty Pleasure

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'The Magus': A Thrilling, Chilling Guilty Pleasure

'The Magus': A Thrilling, Chilling Guilty Pleasure

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. "The Magus" is John Fowles - by John Fowles is filled with tangents about metaphysics, psychoanalysis, history and the occult. It's confusing and mysterious, and when writer Nick Dybek discovered the book, he was immediately hooked. He recommends it now for our occasional series My Guilty Pleasure, where authors talk about a book they're embarrassed to be seen reading.

NICK DYBEK: When I first read the book at 20, I disappeared for a whole week. A quick scan of the morning paper showed no Magus news, so I tossed it. At lunch, my sandwich didn't taste like Magus, so I spit it out. The book is narrated by Nicholas Urfe. He's a young Englishman who takes a teaching job on a Greek island, and there he meets an eccentric millionaire named Conchis. Conchis specializes in hypnotism and manipulation, and from here, the plot becomes so convoluted it makes "Lost" seem like one of "Aesop's Fables."

There's this mysterious woman that joins them for dinner, and we don't know, is she the ghost of Conchis' dead lover or a schizophrenic patient or an actress held against her will? There's plenty to roll your eyes at here, but so what? I connected with the narrator's unjustified longing. He has no special talent or distinction, but still, he feels like life owes him. And you know what? At 20, I felt the same way. And when I revisit "The Magus" now, more than 10 years later, I still feel it. Part of me is still waiting for the mysteries of my own life to begin. At least, I know that they wait in the pages of "The Magus."

BLOCK: Nick Dybek's most recent book is called "When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man." He recommended "The Magus" by John Fowles.

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